Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - May 2018

Posted On: Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

The fifth month of the year ... time flies and now we are almost in winter!

The wonderful thing about indigenous gardens is that there is always an excuse to be out in the garden, and late autumn is no exception. The best part of it is that you don’t have to restrict your outside activities to early morning or late afternoon as the perfect weather allows us to be outside all day long.

I do hope, however, that you find enough time to put the secateurs, spades and forks aside to make time to read this news offering from my beloved Random Harvest. Enjoy!

A Reminder of the Public Holidays 

We are open for business on Friday the 27th of April and Tuesday the 1st of May.

In The Nursery

We love it when our customers enjoy the nursery and not only tell us, but their friends too. 

We have had some super reviews, and were particularly happy to see how many people enjoy our display gardens.

Thank you too, to all those that brought their children through for our Easter Eco Treasure Hunt. 

My staff really enjoyed engaging with the young people, particularly those that were so interested in reading all the information put out for them.

We snapped a picture of some of the plants ready to be placed in our retail. 

It looked like a beautiful garden, just as it was.


In The Shop

With all the rain that we have had, the Amaryllis worms are having a field day with the Clivias, Crinums and other bulbs here is Gauteng. I have added a picture of one of these destructive little creatures so you can be vigilant and keep them out of your garden

I have had good results with the Lipid no. 7, which contains a very small amount of poison. 

As the poison is taken into the plant immediately with the lipid, it has been very effective against the Amaryllis worms that eat away the flesh from inside the leaf and the bulb of the plant. 

There is very little chance of poisoning anything else as nothing eats the worms.


We have a new range of items from 6 Degrees East available from our shop. A skills development project run in the CBD of Johannesburg, 6 Degrees East empowers young men to become competent tailors. They manufacture 100% made in RSA gardening aprons out of denim and Shweshwe or a floral fabric. 


Other items supplied by 6 Degrees East are a Planter with its own soil block; 100% organic Gardeners hand butter and Rosemary Poppy seed soap, as well as small gardening items. Lovely gifts for loved ones and for spoiling yourself too! With Mother’s Day coming up I thought they would make perfect gifts for Mum.

Now is the time to start thinking about plant Namaqualand Daisies which will bloom with abandon in spring.


We also have a new artist, Godfrey, providing us with these beautiful beaded, indigenous birds and other interesting decorations for your garden.


Monthly Coffee Morning


Tree walk followed by a chat over coffee, about preparing your garden for the cold.
Time: 10h30 - 12h00
We will start with a tree walk around and about the nursery, and talk about five or six of the various trees as we go. After that, join us for coffee and a chat about preparing your garden for the cold.

As we have Namaqualand Daisy seed for sale we will demonstrate how to plant them.


I have a number of lovely gardening books that will be available on a table at the next few coffee mornings. These have been donated by Lorna, one of my long-standing customers. We ask for a donation for books taken, and all proceeds will go to the DGN Street children’s house fund. DGN is a Place of Safety for young homeless children, under the age of 18. 

Once they turn 18, regardless of their lack of resources and ability to take care of themselves, they are required to leave this establishment. The house fund aims to provide these young people over the age of 18 with accommodation in an organised, family-style house whilst they get themselves established. This will be a vital link between being dependent and contributing to a thriving economy.


The topic will be on the care and planting of Aloes.

Mother's Day – Sunday, 13TH MAY 2018

Random Harvest has a free gift for all Mums visiting the nursery on their special day. If your Mom would like to be treated, please note the special offerings in our tea garden on this day:

Breakfast Buffet ONLY 08h00 – 11h30– A mouth-watering spread of Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, tomato, toast, as well as yoghurt, muesli and fruit, as well as delicious bran muffins. All this, including fruit juice and tea or coffee for only R155.00 per person.

High Tea 14h00 – 16h30 - a delectable array of treats as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat. 

Including fruit juice and tea or coffee, for only R160.00 per person. Booking only. 


Contact Ashley on 011 957-5356 to reserve your space

11h30 – 16h30 Order from the menu

Drinks and cake off the menu will be available all day

Father's Day – Sunday, 17 JUNE 2018

Please note that we will repeat the offerings in our Tea Garden as for Mother’s Day.



Bird Walk With Andre Marx Or Lia Steen

Dates: 12th May : Time: 07h00 for 07h30

RSVP: [email protected] or call 082 553 0598 to book your spot as soon as possible as these walks book up so fast.
Bring: Binoculars, Walking shoes, A hat and sunscreen
Cost: R155.00 including a buffet breakfast


Join our regular bird walk with either Andre Marx or Lia Steen to discover some of the over 160 delightful South African Bird Species that share this farm with us. This is a wonderful time of year to go birding, as there are so many species to be seen.

Lindsay Gray’s Courses

For bookings, cost and any further information you may need for the following courses, please contact
Lindsay on [email protected]; Cel : 082 449 9237

Friday 18th May 8h30 to 14h45 - Domestic Gardeners course
These courses upskill and provide your gardeners with the confidence to maintain your garden and help create interesting plantings.
Saturday 19th May 8h30 to 12h30 – Easy steps to designing your garden
13h30 to 16h30 – Easy steps to sketching your ideas
Friday 8th June - 8h30 to 14h45 - Domestic Gardeners course
Saturday 9th June - 8h30 to 12h30 – Easy steps to designing your garden
13h30 to 16h30 – Easy steps to maintaining your garden.

Painting Auction


One of Heather’s paintings was bought when she had an exhibition here, but not collected. 

We have since been advised that the buyer cannot take it, and so Heather has asked if this can be used to raise funds for Donald’s Street children of Mogale city. 

(Please see the note under the Sale of books at the coffee morning for more details on this concern).

The painting will be available to view at reception throughout May, and we will do a lucky draw for it on the 31st of May. 

To stand a chance to win this picture, all you need to do is write your name down against a number and donate any amount you wish for the ticket.



Lavender Tree Cottage is undergoing a Face-lift and refurbishment. 

This is just the first. I hope, after all David and my shopping for new curtains and the addition of a shower, my guests will enjoy their stay even more than before.

In The Garden – Monthly Garden Tips

Pruning certain shrubs – Some shrubs that have finished flowering are ready to be pruned this month. Those that flower much of the year can also be pruned once the peak flowering season is over, to make sure that they flower well next season. Examples are Anisodontea, Gnidia, Barleria, Jamesbrittenia, Canary creeper and Plumbago. How you prune depends on the shape that you desire, but a good pruning will invigorate plant growth once the cold season has passed.

Don’t forget that this is the month for planting spring bulbs and Namaqualand daisies.

Borer beetles: Mike has drawn my attention to an extremely concerning Tree wood borer, the information for which was featured on our Facebook page. Apparently the borer beetle attack is not what kills the tree, but the combination of fungi that it carries is lethal. The beetle carries the fungi into the wood of the tree and disrupts the tree’s metabolic processes and water-carrying pathways.

We are experimenting with a mix of Lipids that combat both insect and fungal attacks on plants. Time has been too short to report any success stories so far, but we are very positive about the potential outcome. Should you wish to find out more about the treatment, please email Mike on [email protected].

Plants Looking Good

Asparagus falcatus - Large Forest Asparagus (E); Doringtou (A)

This is a beautiful, glossy-leaved climber for shade. It can be left as a climber or pruned into an attractive rounded small shrub. I love it when it is planted in a container especially for shady spots on a veranda or in the garden. An added attraction is the sweetly-scented white flowers.


Euclea crispa - Blue Guarri (E); Bloughwarrie (A)

This tough, medium evergreen tree has beautiful blue-green or olive-green leaves and a pale grey smooth stem – these two features make it a beautiful specimen tree. 

An added benefit are the edible black berries that you have to compete with the birds to get your share.


Coddia rudis - Small Boneapple (E); Kleinbeenappel (A)

I absolutely love this medium-sized shrub, but as it is not common, people are a little wary of trying it. There are some beautiful specimens here at Random Harvest. With its interesting branching patterns, little bell-shaped flowers hanging all along the branches and its edible fruits it is a must for a bird garden. It also makes a lovely container plant. As it grows in sun or shade it is very useful in the garden.


Gunnera perpensa - River Pumpkin (E); Rivierpampoen (A)

Very hardy, deciduous marsh plant with beautiful big, round, bluish-green leaves that are carried on long stems and arise from a central point on the roots. 

The tiny brown flowers are densely packed in gracefully-drooping spikes. 

It makes a real statement alongside a pond or stream. 

It only grows in wetlands in shallow water and marshy areas. 

An attractive foliage plant for damp places and around water features.


Aloe fosteri - Foster’s Aloe (E)

You are probably tired of me mentioning these beautiful Aloes that are so beloved by Sunbirds but they give me such joy each autumn that I just have to go on about them. 

They are small stemless Aloes ,and thus suit any sized garden.


Cyphostemma lanigerum - Wild Grape (E); Wildedruif (A)

One of our local bushy plants with climbing stem rising from a tuberous root. It has large attractive leaves, clusters of greenish flowers and then it bears large bunches of beautiful fleshy red berries which the birds love. It makes a beautiful container, hanging basket and rockery plant.


Plants on Special This Month – Less 15%


Pychnostachys urticifolia - Hedgehog Sage (E); Groot Ystervarksalie (A)

The intense blue flowers of this shrub are a sight to behold. 

An added bonus is that it is a wonderful butterfly plant. 

When it is finished flowering – prune severely to ensure a mass of flowers next season.


Rhus pyroides - Firethorn Rhus (E); Riviertaaibos (A);

This tough, survivor is a marvellous addition to a bird garden. 

The huge bunches of berries are irresistible to the birds. The fruit is edible but you do have to beat the birds. 

The birds and I are always in competition to collect the seeds.

On The Farm


The most exciting thing that happened this month was the cloudburst we had after a dry spell.

78mm of rain fell in just 20 minutes, it was a deluge. The furrows leading to the dam could not contain the volume of water. Even so, the dam overflowed for only the third time since we have been living here and is just beautiful.


I thought the water was going to overflow over the dam wall, but luckily my outlet from the dam worked well and we didn’t have that problem.

The water went up to the tree line and halfway up the electric box for the borehole. Amazing!

The really nice thing about the dam being so full is that the ducks arrive. Here is a Yellow-billed duck enjoying the huge dam.


We found this terrapin in the nursery on his way to the dam. 

Just as I warned Ashley and Meshack to be careful his urine stinks – he managed to wee on them. 

I think they will be more careful in future. 

He was lucky he got a free ride to the dam and didn’t have to walk all the way.

Remember the pic that we posted in our last Newsletter? We are always delighted to find creatures at Random Harvest Nursery that we have not seen before. Even more exciting is that we now know what they are. Thank you to Peter Webb and Prof Mike Picker for assisting with the identification. This is what Prof. Picker has to say:


“These are the very unusual larvae of the hoverfly Microdon. 

These slug-like larvae are always associated with ant nests – in this case possibly Pheidole but I can’t make out the ants well-enough…”

There have been so many interesting insects on the farm this month. I am just so grateful to have someone like Mike to identify them and in the process educate myself and my readers about these fascinating creatures.

Acanthacris ruficornis is a very common tree hopper – they only feed on woody plants. Their nymphs are large, apple green and soft – often seen on flowers.


The ladybeetle pupa cannot be identified until it hatches – but it is one of the larger species, possibly the alien harlequin ladybeetle.

The mud turret is constructed by solitary bees (often Anthophora) – it’s an adaptation to stop water flooding down the hole after rains. The large adult bees are important pollinators – mostly of Fabaceae

The blue dragonfly is probably Orthetrum Julia – males only develop their colours after a few months. It’s an unusual wax that scatters light to cause the so-called tyndall blue


Phymateus viridipes is the common Foam locust – they feed largely on asclepiads (especially Asclepias fruticosus) but occasionally nibble other plants. They (their family Pyrgomorphidae) only feed on forbs, never grasses.

This is the adult form of the nymphs I wrote about in the previous newsletter where they were feeding on Asclepias fruticosus (Milk Weed).

Ruspolia is a common long-horned grasshopper (Tettigoniidae) which may swarm. Common in grasslands, attracted to lights, very strong jaws used to crack maturing grass seeds


The snowy tree cricket is a delicate, pale green or white cricket which feeds mainly on aphids in trees. They have a melodious, almost pure note whistle – amplified by a little hole they gnaw in a leaf.


Last month I shared the Picture of the Rhino Beetle larva. 

Now here is a picture of the adult bumbling around in the mulch.

It looks like we are now entering the fascinating world of insects.

I am sad to say that the Paradise Flycatchers seems to have left for warmer climes. I am not getting woken in the mornings to their cheerful calls.

This Yellow-fronted Canary was feasting on the seeds of Setaria megaphylla. This is a great grass for shade, but needs to be controlled and cut back at least twice a year.


Jeff and Ashley outdid themselves this month with pictures of birds that we have been battling to get good pictures of. This Green Wood-hoopoe, photographed by Ashley, was having a feast on the worms in the Paperbark behind the office.


Believe it or not the Crested Barbet might be a common bird but it is really difficult to get a good picture, I think it is the colours. 

Even so I loved this picture of him sitting on top of a Rondavel with an Acacia behind it – a truly African scene.

Some of the plants are looking absolutely stunning at this time of the year.

I thought I would make you drool over this Nerine undulata. I was stunned at its beauty. Hopefully we will have some for sale next year. (You have to be endlessly patient in this profession)


The Calpurnea aurea (Natal Laburnum) is smothered in these beautiful golden flowers. This is a beautiful tiny tree for small areas of the garden.


The weather is very confusing at the moment and this shows in how some plants are performing. 

This Crinum macowanii (River Lily) should only bloom with its huge flowers once a year. 

But this one is blooming again completely out of season. I am not complaining, I am just enjoying it.

The Acacia hebeclada (Candle Thorn) in the grassland has lots of seed pods this year. 

You can see from the picture why it is called ‘Candle Thorn’. 

The upright pods look just like candles in the top of the tree.


With all the moisture around, the mushrooms and bracket fungi have been amazing. I loved the look of this bracket fungus but was not too happy that it is on one of my trees. 

This usually only occurs when a tree is on its way out. Nevertheless, it is a natural process and everything in nature has its place.


There were so many other mushrooms on the farm I wanted to show you. So I have just added the pictures for your enjoyment but have not had the time to identify them.

I loved these pictures of the mushrooms after they had dispersed their seeds. If you look carefully they have amazing detail.


These tiny ones with the red caps were in the garden behind the office.

There is always so much to discover in an indigenous garden.

I thought I would introduce the new baby that arrived. She is so pretty and dainty that it could only be a heifer.


After the rain the farm was truly beautiful. The raindrops glistening in the early morning sun on the spider webs were a real joy.

Sometime when I go to the office on these moist autumn mornings with the sun just rising. 

My heart is filled to overflowing with the beauty of the place, I am so fortunate to live in, all around me.

Take time to stop and breathe in the beauty of the autumn all around you. 

This is a beautiful world in which we live.




Cel 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

For directions please go to our website www.rhn.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

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